By Richards Adeniyi
Maritime unions have reiterated the call for the jettisoning of the new Port and Harbour bill being contemplated at the National Assembly.
Addressing journalists at the LPC entry gate during a protest, President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, reiterated the need for the National Assembly to reject the bill because it negates the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Act of 1955 as amended.
Adeyanju noted that “if this bill is passed into law; it will lead to massive job loss to our members and not all the workers currently with NPA will be absorbed”
He noted that “experience has taught us from what happened in the past when the seaports were concessioned 10 years ago.
Government said nobody will lose their job but from what we are about to see right now, if this bill is passed into law then thousands of workers in the maritime industry will lose their jobs.
“The bill if passed will send dockworkers, seamen, shipping operators staff, staff NPA to the labour market and the bill does not make provision for those who will not be absorbed because there will be no payment for them by the new Nigerian Harbours Authority”
The PG described the bill as a security risk to the nation when passed into law, vowing that “this bill must not see the light of the day”.
Speaking further he said that “we want to use this medium to appeal to members of the National Assembly and its leaders to throw away this bill because it seeks to do more harm to the majority and favour the few individuals promoting it”.
Also speaking, president of SSACTAC, Comrade Benson Adegbeyeni, accused members of the National Assembly of shortchanging Nigerians after been voted into power by the people.
Adegbeyeni recalled that the 2006 port concession had led to millions of job losses and the union will never allow such to happen again through such bill.
The SSACTAC president noted that the bill when passed, does not make any form of provision for workers that might be disengage, pointing out “NPA of 10 years ago till date is an eyesore”
According to him, the bill when passed into law would enslave Nigerians, stressing the need for harbour operations to be the sole responsibility of the government and not private individuals.
“On our part, as organised labour, we unequivocally reject this bill and to show our resolve, as we speak with you, all the port formations nationwide have been shut down since 6amtoday”
“And we are determined to ensure that Nigeria and Nigerians are not short changed by this obnoxious bill”, he added.